RICHMOND — In order to serve more of Virginia’s ex-offenders in need of long-term opioid use treatment and recovery, the Virginia Department of Corrections is expanding a reentry treatment program.
In July of 2018, the Department of Corrections (VADOC) launched the Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative (MAT) pilot program to provide pre-release treatment and post-release referral, treatment and support for opioid-addicted offenders.
Eligible participants must complete intensive substance abuse treatment programming while incarcerated. Prior to release, individuals receive an initial injection of Vivitrol (naltrexone) which blocks the effects of opioids. Upon release, they enter into a multi-faceted outpatient treatment program through their local Community Service Board (CSB) and continue to receive monthly injections of Vivitrol.
The program expansion adds the Brunswick Community Corrections Alternative Program to the list of participating facilities. With the addition of Brunswick CCAP, eligible probationers in all VADOC community corrections alternative programs now have access to MAT.
“We are in the business of helping people be better,” said Deputy Director of Programs, Education and Re-entry Scott Richeson said. “The VADOC remains committed to addressing the issue of addiction and through this pilot program we are able to expand MAT services to reach neighboring districts and include another Community Corrections Alternative Program site. We recognize the need to grow the program and are excited for the opportunity to do so.”
“We believe in second chances,” said Chief of Corrections Operations David Robinson. “The MAT program gives offenders and probationers a chance to reenter society with a different mindset. Participants are able to focus on setting and achieving personal goals without the cravings that drive their opioid addictions.”
The expansion adds three neighboring districts to the eligible release site locations. Offenders releasing to Probation and Parole districts in Wytheville, Abingdon, and Fredericksburg can now participate in MAT.
“We are working hard to offer the pilot program to more people,” explained Statewide Medication-Assisted Treatment Coordinator Dr. Katie Hartka. “MAT is a critical program because recently released offenders are at a much higher risk of death from opioid overdose compared to the general population.”
Soon, the VADOC plans to introduce buprenorphine as an alternative to naltrexone. The department is already set to launch a new Narcan Take-Home Initiative for individuals releasing from MAT facilities. Information on these program additions will be released at a later date.
To see how the Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative has improved the lives of its participants, click on the link to view the VADOC MATRI video on YouTube.